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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 14th, 2006 - 00:40:34

�Fear! Fear!� shouted hawks and profiteers
By Brian Bogart
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 14, 2006, 00:33

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As soon as it came out that the apparent �new 9-11� threat had been thwarted with the help of Pakistani Intelligence Services (ISI), it also became clear that it was a political tool for further legitimizing the lucrative �war on terror.� After all, the ISI with Saudi financing and covert CIA training created al-Qaeda in the first place, to counter another �threat�: Soviet "communist enslavement.�

In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a handful of Wall Street lawyers and investors to posts in his administration, including James Conant, James Forrestal, and Paul Nitze. Upon Roosevelt�s death (and the coinciding fall of the Third Reich), this influential group began an attempt to fill the trade vacuum left in postwar Europe. While Europeans and Soviets would have preferred a neutralist trade environment, these State Department officials in the final years of the 1940s sought US trade supremacy, and thus set about creating a Soviet �communist threat� that ran counter to the CIA�s own National Intelligence Estimates.

By 1951, this group had formed the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), which by March of that year successfully motivated Congress and the public to buy into the �threat of communist enslavement� through fear-based rhetoric in the media, setting in motion the Cold War and a US economy driven by conflict.

As CPD members moved from administration to administration regardless of party affiliation, the Cold War policy of �containment militarism� ran strong through the late 1960s. In the wake of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, according to Richard Falk, a split between foreign policy elites emerged: Imperialists, who sought to remilitarize the US for global conquest still using the fear-inciting Soviet �communist threat,� and managers (Trilateralists), who attempted to rally the corporate spheres of Europe, East Asia and the US to adopt a new era of interdependent international trade.

In 1976, this split led to the first CPD-free administration in the office of President Carter, though CPD quickly regrouped to kill d�tente, oust Carter, and reestablish itself in the Reagan administration, using �Soviet-backed international terrorism� as the new fear factor.

Around June of 1979, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, �The United States launched a covert operation to bolster anticommunist guerrillas in Afghanistan at least six months before the 1979 Soviet invasion of that country. We did not push the Russians into invading, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.�

The US had actively recruited Afghan warlords to form terrorist groups along the northern border, forcing the USSR to conduct a full-scale invasion in December 1979 to counter the US destabilization program. Among the methods used by the US in this program was the production and distribution of textbooks to schools (madrassas), promoting the war-values of murder and fanaticism, and fostering a generation steeped in violence.

Upon taking office in January 1981, Reagan outlined his new foreign policy in a speech by Alexander Haig, which boiled down to: �International terrorism will take the place of human rights in our concern.� Thus, the 1979 US destabilization program using terrorist groups to lure the Soviets into Afghanistan was used by the US to call the Soviet invasion �terrorism� and to point to that invasion as a model for the newly invented phenomenon of �Soviet-backed terrorism� around the world.

This cemented the CPD�s original hegemonic goal of a fear-based structure. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and its �communist threat,� this structure still prevails, requiring new external threats to maintain today�s US-global trade supremacy. Absent the old communist threat, the degree of deceit necessary to sway public opinion increasingly grew, ultimately employing first strikes against Western assets both to satisfy this demand for public acceptance and acquiescence, and to serve as pretexts for the placement of US forces in geostrategic regions. The US currently has 750,000 troops in 135 countries.

What we are left with is simply �international terrorism,� a perpetual �threat� straight out of the plotline of the film V for Vendetta, and one that satisfies most corporate executives and serves to cover such inconvenient truths as climate change � imperialism�s product and archenemy � the raging and disproportionate conflict in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and the criminal invasion of Iraq (not to mention that this particular �thwarted 9-11� is a timely boost for the pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman).

Immediately after 9-11, Vladimir Putin promised support for George Bush�s �war on terror,� with the caveat that NATO cease its eastward push. Bush agreed, and just as immediately set about pushing NATO eastward. Professor Stephen Cohen of New York University points out that with the US today openly stating that Georgia and Ukraine are to become NATO partners � and with Putin having drawn the line with Ukraine, as Russia subsidizes much of Ukraine�s economy � a new and very real tension has risen between the two largest possessors of nuclear arms. In fact, a US warship and 200 Marines were recently chased out of the Russian province of Crimea by a group of protesters.

The heightened illusion of what Bush calls a �global war against Islamic fascists� also serves to back Putin into a corner, as Putin must be perceived as even-handed toward the 25 million Muslims in Russia.

Most people would find all of this easy to digest had they the time to read two excellent books on US post-World War II and post-Cold War imperialism respectively: Peddlers of Crisis, by Jerry Sanders, and The War on Truth, by Nafeez Ahmed. Unfortunately, few will take the time to do so, and thus the rush of fear derived from such an event as just occurred means a near total success for maintaining the Conflict Incorporated status quo.

In other words, in the last 25 years the US created the threat and, through the resultant fear, the worldwide authoritarian means to pretend to deal with it while exercising the full scope of its imperial ambitions, with friends and puppets tagging along. Moreover, that the US (and apparently now the UK) knowingly harbored al-Qaeda cells throughout the 1990s and up to and beyond 9-11 lends a new perspective to President Bush�s post-9-11 promise to �make no distinction between those who committed these terrible acts and those who harbor them.�

Who gained? The ruling elite (the minority). Who lost? The majority, everywhere. Who were the �terrorists�? Patsies. The need for a new and real (fully allowed to unfold) 9-11 has been forestalled for the moment as one waits for the other shoe to drop: the linking of Syria and Iran and whomever else to the current �investigation.�

Funny how Bush administration officials denied any foreknowledge that planes could be used as weapons after 9-11, particularly when the same officials are now saying that they recognized this plot because of its similarities to one carried out by Ramsey Yousef in 1995. What a fine spin.

Already, US news outlets are calling the 24 suspects �Pakistanis,� failing to mention that most if not all are British citizens, born and raised.

�If ever there was a verification that there is a war on terror, this was it,� said one reporter � and that is precisely what it was intended to be. And so much for the so-called �national threat level,� which apparently stays low during months of intensely high threat levels and rises after a threat is �thwarted.�

The state of global affairs from the US perspective can be summed up in one statement from a lengthy essay, Constant Conflict, by Major Ralph Peters: �There will be no peace. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy, and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.�

Where once they shouted �Hear! Hear!� toward progress in public chambers, one can almost catch the resonant echoes of some Western leaders happily whispering in private �Fear! Fear!� while their profits soar and their people tremble. Somebody should be checking market �put options� right about now.

A human rights activist for 45 years, Brian Bogart is the first graduate student in Peace Studies from the University of Oregon. He can be reached at

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